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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Privacy Policy

Privacy policies describe how a project gathers, discloses, and  manages user and volunteer data including the use of data gathered by cookies and web logs, personal data gathered during registration, and observational data contributed by a volunteer. 



Most websites, by default, gather data about users through cookies and log files. Despite the fact that these are standard practices, many citizen science projects include information about cookies and log files on a “Privacy policy” page. Including such information adheres to legal regulations such as the E-Privacy directive and builds user trust.

Data about volunteers is often collected during registration. This data might include the full name of a volunteer, a username, an email address, a physical mailing address, and demographics. Additional data is collected from volunteers who upload observations or contribute data. These types of data include latitude and longitude coordinates, date and time of observation, observational data, and photographs, which may also embed information about camera or smartphone model, software, and other details. 

Two types of data merit special consideration: email addresses, and location-based data. Few things annoy volunteers as much as receiving unwanted emails. As mentioned in the legal policies section, the US regulation CAN-SPAM dictates that projects who email volunteers must allow them to opt out of receiving emails. Location-based data is extremely sensitive and, understandably, volunteers can be hesitant to share it. At a minimum, privacy policies should detail the measures taken to protect location-based data, including listing the parties that have access to this data. Some projects, like Calflora, allow volunteers to set different permissions for different pieces of location-based data.  

For more information, please refer to this data policy primer

Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

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